Next round of restoration of Holy Sepulchre underway

Jerusalem, March 15, 2022

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The next step in the restoration process of the Lord’s Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was officially inaugurated yesterday.

This time, work will be carried out on the damaged floor and excavations beneath the Seven Arches and in front of the Sacred Edicule, the edifice over the Sepulchre itself, as a continuation of the restoration of the Sacred Edicule that was completed several years ago, reports the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The work is scheduled to be completed within 26 months and will be funded by sponsors and donors.

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In 2019, the three Churches that jointly administer the holy site—the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Franciscans in the Holy Land, and the Patriarchate of Armenia—agreed on at least four rounds of renovation that will eventually be carried out.

The inauguration of the second round was attended by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantine, His Eminence Archbishop Isidoros of Hierapolis, and other Patriarchate clergy, as well as Franciscan and Armenian representatives.

Pat. Theophilos addressed those present on the occasion:

Come bless the Lord all you servants of the Lord
who stand…in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to the holy place,
and bless the Lord.

(Psalm 133[134]:1-2).

Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Beloved Members of our Respective Brotherhoods,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are gathered in the holiest of places in this historic moment to continue the work that has been so well begun in the restoration of the Sacred Edicule. On this occasion we remember the words of the Psalms:

How very good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity!

(Psalm 132 [133]:1).

Five years ago this month, we gathered here to celebrate the completion of the restoration of the Sacred Edicule. That restoration was the fruit not only of the labour of experts but of our common purpose and unity in placing the restoration of the Sacred Edicule above all other concerns and distractions. As those to whom the Divine Providence has entrusted the Diakonia of the Holy Places, we must always deepen our commitment to this common purpose.

The restoration of the Sacred Edicule, the first in two centuries, stands as a true achievement of our Communities acting together and is a sign of hope for the world.

And now we stand at the beginning of a new phase of this work, to restore the area beneath the floor of the rotunda as well as the pavement, to ensure that the foundations of this holy place are secure for generations to come. We are deeply grateful to all those sponsors whose generosity and expertise are making this project possible, and we fully expect that his work will bring the present renovation of the sacred Edicule and the rotunda to successful completion.

We are meeting here at a difficult time for humanity. The pandemic is not yet over, there is grave conflict in Ukraine and in the world generally, there is a great deal of political, economic and social instability.

But here, in this holiest of places, that is, the Holy Tomb, there is hope. In the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, the new and eternal life of God has shone forth like a light in our dark and confused world. As we care for and restore this holy place, we participate in the message of hope that emanates from the Holy Tomb not just for the Christians, but also for people of goodwill around the world.

As we gather here, we recall the words of Saint John Chrysostom which are recited here every day:

O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance;
protect the fullness of your Church;
and sanctify those who love the beauty of your house…
For every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above,
coming down from you, the Father of lights.

May the Almighty God, the Father of lights, whose uncreated Light shines from the Holy Tomb, bless our new work that begins today in His name.

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